Rattled by the Indian Cricket League's massive recruitment drive, the BCCI on Tuesday retaliated by sacking Kapil Dev as Chairman of National Cricket Academy for aligning with the multi-million dollar breakaway league and announced hefty pay hikes for domestic cricketers to prevent a fresh exodus.
In an apparent bid to counter the challenge posed by the Subhash Chandra-owned Essel Group, the BCCI came out with a slew of financial measures to retain its players, while making it clear that the defectors would be barred from playing for India or at the domestic level.
The decision to sack Kapil Dev, who also heads the ICL's Executive Board, was taken at the Board's Special General Meeting, which deliberated at length on the contentious ICL issue.
Addressing a crowded press conference, BCCI Treasurer N Srinivasan put up a bold face, saying that the exodus of domestic players was not a problem.
NCA Vice Chairman Ajay Shirke has been appointed as the acting Chairman of the Bangalore-based academy and a decision on the new Chairman would be taken at BCCI's Annual General Meeting on September 28.
Srinivasan said that the match fees of the Ranji Trophy players would be increased to Rs 35,000 per day and the total prize money for domestic tournament would be hiked to Rs 4.2 crore.
Ranji Trophy players currently get a match fee of Rs 16,000 per day, which means that domestic players would get Rs 19,000 more from the current season.
"In line with what was decided in the Special General Body Meeting, Kapil Dev ceases to be the NCA Chairman," Srinivasan said.
The BCCI has also planned to do away with honorary selectors.
"We will have paid selectors from September 2008 but there would be no eligibility criteria (like so many number of Tests or first class matches) and they can also continue to be members of the managing committees of their respective associations", Srinivasan said.
This was a clear climb-down from the proposal that the senior selectors should have played at least 5 Tests or 50 first class ties and the junior selectors a minimum of 25 first class matches and should not be members of any association's managing committee.
"We thought these can be done by the working committee, the laying down of criteria, whenever it chooses fit to do so and not be part of the constitution", the Board official said. "The proposal to have a president-elect (to succeed incumbent chief Sharad Pawar) was also carried out unanimously," Srinivasan said.
The other amendments carried out to the memorandum of rules and regulations were the inclusion of women's cricket and Twenty20 cricket, which are new concepts, according to BCCI sources.
But there was no proposal to arm the coach/cricket manager with a vote along with the captain and vice captain of the senior team when it tours overseas, the sources added.
Kapil's sacking was very much on the cards as the BCCI had made it clear that those who had aligned with the rebel league would not be associated with the Board activities.
Kapil's term as NCA Chairman was to end in September this year and the BCCI will now have to start the process for looking for a replacement for its Bangalore-based academy.
Srinivasan said the players were free to choose between the BCCI and the ICL but those who opted to play for the cash-rich league, should not expect any benefits from the Board.
The Special General Meeting also decided to increase the expenditure on women's cricket to Rs seven crore.
Setting up a zonal cricket academy in Kolkata and an indoor stadium in New Delhi were some of the other decisions taken at the meeting which was presided over by President Sharad Pawar.
The BCCI proposal to amend the constitution for appointing a President-elect has also been approved by the special meeting.
The BCCI and ICL have been engaged in a war of attrition ever since the league was announced in April but the developments really hotted up in the last two days with the ICL parading its players at a press conference here and having a dig at the cricket establishment.
Although the ICL has not managed to lure 44 Indian first class cricketers with whopping offers of Rs 30 lakhs per year, it has not succeeded in wooing current Indian Test players or even India A players.